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Stephen Downes: ebook on openness

Stephen Downes, partly in response to Anya Kamenetz DIY U report and her critique of the readability of his works by the general public (“I’ve never read anything you’ve written (and yes, I’ve read plenty of your writing) that would be particularly useful, comprehensible or interesting to a bright 19 year old like Weezie, much less a 64 year old trying to earn a community college degree, like Melvin Doran, the LearnerWeb participant”), has released a document on Free Learning (.pdf). This paper covers a wide territory of Downes’ work in open education, covering almost a decade. It includes a few classics (to the degree that our field has classics), such as his discussion with Dave Tosh (co-founder of Elgg) on the role of openness in economics or earning a living and numerous encounters with David Wiley. I was surprised, on reading this compilation, how often Stephen writes in response to views of others – he’s much more engaged in the conversation around technology in education than the broadcast model of OLDaily suggests. He frequently finds someone who is wrong on the internet.

Rory McGreal and I are teaching a course in Openness in Education in the MDE program at Athabasca in early 2012. This will be a good resource for learners to explore in tracking the conversation around openness from a Downsian point of view.


  1. Actually, my *other* e-book, called ‘Access::Future’, was in response to Kamenetz.

    This one was just because I’m on a roll.

    More coming, too.

    Friday, August 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  2. peps mccrea wrote:

    When’s the film due?

    Friday, August 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  3. Matt Senate wrote:

    I’ve personally read and cited Downes AND Kamenetz. I sense a solidarity (which does not imply consensus), but I wish it was more explicit!

    Friday, August 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  4. Alex P.Real wrote:

    This kind of futile criticism betrays Kamenetz rather than highlight any Downes flaws. Is it really preferable to lower intellectual standards rather than empower Weezie/Melvin to grasp them should they want to? At 19 I’d have thought Kamenetz patronising and offensive. Are we facing a new form of censorship re tone/style and audience? Isn’t this just the opposite of openness?

    I enjoy Downes’ writings, some readers crave for intelligent and cultivated argumentation, even though I don’t necessarily agree with his views. Actually what I find lacking in the field of openness is a more consistent intellectual framework. Without a good theoretical build, DIY is just cool and research findings, flawed. Keep rolling, please!!

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  5. Frances Bell wrote:

    I know you didn’t really mean that comment about ‘someone who is wrong on the Internet’ but it did make me think about the extent to which any of us acknowledge when we are ‘wrong’, showing growth in our thinking, and engagement in dialogue (as opposed to conversation). I suppose a collection of works is an opportunity to trace development.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 2:04 am | Permalink